The Doll Maker
Richard Montanari
Mullholland Books 2015
485 pages

The Doll Maker is a very good thriller by Richard Montanari. Its basic story is of a serial killer couple who leave doll replicas of their previous victims next to their latest. Detectives Byrne and Balzano, who have appeared in previous Montanari novels are the detectives trying to solve the case. Particularly demanding readers will cringe at a couple of really unbelievable plot elements and perhaps give up on this book because of that. less demanding readers will swallow these two very big pills and continue to the end..

What makes The Doll Maker stand out is Richard Montanari’s almost flawless ability to switch between three distinct narrative voices. They are that of an omniscient narrator, and those of Mr. Marseilles and Annabelle, serial killers. Particularly interesting is that of Annabelle who comes across as a Victorian era diarist.

The story opens with Detective Byrne still obsessed with a woman on death row and his conviction she knows where six other bodies are. How this ties in to the main plot is a rather clever twist. Less clever is that the moment the reader learns Detective Balzano has a teenage daughter, you know she will somehow become the target of the killers: it is one of the standards of the genre lately.

One of the howlers in this story is the idea a fingerprint belonging to an important secondary character could still be present on an item found with one of the victims, an item cherished by Annabelle and that she must have handled more often than not. Revealing the other implausible plot twist would be a spoiler to the whole thing.

The YouTube trailer has little to do with this book.